GUEST POST and GIVEAWAY
The Forty Watt Flowers
by C. M. Subasic
The Forty Watt Flowers is currently on tour with Goddess Fish Promotions. The tour stops here today for a guest post by the author, an excerpt, and a giveaway. Please be sure to visit the other tour stops as well.
A comic novel as colorful and gritty as Georgia red clay, The Forty Watt Flowers gives you a moshpit view of the indie band world of Athens, Georgia.
All Trisha wants to do is create something meaningful. Since she's living in the indie band capital of North America, she brings four other women together and The Forty Watt Flowers are formed. Unfortunately, making great music isn’t as easy as it sounds.
Rosemarie, on keyboards, has a libido as fierce as a hurricane. Aline, the singer, is a hermit, scratching out poems in her antebellum mansion. Juanita, on drums, has a poison tongue too quick on the draw. Toni, on guitar, made the mistake of heading South to come out of the closet.
More challenging than managing this crew of misfits, Trisha needs to undo the destruction of a family. If she reaches out to her parents after two years of radio silence, will they still blame her for the death of her sister?
From the jock atmosphere of the garage where they rehearse to the beer-soaked bars where they gig, these five young women struggle to find beauty in the mess of notes they try to play and the chaos of their lives.
A playful and sparkling novel full of characters you’ll love to hate and hate to love, The Forty Watt Flowers explores the liberating powers of rock’n’roll in a notorious music town full of the charm of the New South.
First Rehearsal, Aline & Trisha
Trisha sat on the curb beside her. "Aline, I’m not an experienced musician or anything. I have no idea what we’re doing. I’m just—"
"You’re going to do very well at this, I can tell," Aline said.
"I just can, that’s all."
Their gazes met. Aline’s smile was so open, like a warm bath.
Trisha asked, "When you write a poem, how do you do it?"
Aline bit her lip. "A poem for me …" She shook her head, started again, "The first thing I do is I get all quiet and I listen."
Aline nodded. "I start with something that resonates with me," she said. "It’s like I’m looking for the seed. That seed has to shake, like all of inside me is just going B-O-I-N-G-! B-O-I-N-G-!"
Trisha repeated, "Boing."
Aline sang, drawing it out, "B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!"
Trisha repeated, "B-O-I-N-G —I-N-G!"
Aline smiled. "You got it." Then with eyes intent on that interior space of hers, she continued, "Well, that boing gives me a beat. Some days, there’s nothing there. Other days, there’s ten or twelve ideas screaming and it scares me. And then I—"
A thought rang like a chord, high and clear in Trisha’s thoughts. She wasn’t sure if it was because of what Aline had said, or if she’d just needed the space to let it appear. But there it was. She jumped up.
"Aline?" she said.
"We need to get back in there."
Praise for the Book
"The Forty-Watt Flowers has a lot of heart and is simultaneously inspiring and educational ... the development of the band and the struggles they faced felt genuine. I felt like I could understand their problems with finding their sound and teamwork. It was a realistic look at bands and their creations. Everything from stage fright to member cooperation is included well and gives readers a great view at the dynamics of band interactions." ~ Dancing Through the Pages
"The Forty Watt Flowers is a beautifully written love letter to music and an irresistible page-turner. Colleen Subasic’s novel, set against the the indie rock scene of Athens, Georgia, introduces us to five unforgettable characters. Like Roddy Doyle’s The Commitments, The Forty Watt Flowers are an unlikely collection of music lovers who learn how to invest all the passion, pain, and glory of their lives into their sound. Like a song you want to put on 'repeat', The Forty Watt Flowers is a song that lingers in your head long after you’ve heard it." ~ Glenda MacFarlane, playwright and editor
"It’s about the music you dream of screaming under the hot lights of the stage as your fans sing it back to you. It's what you create as you wrestle your demons, the hottest, most frightening music you know." ~ Melinda R. Cordell, novelist
"A fevered journey through the indie explosion in Athens, GA. Laugh-out-loud funny and cry in your beer heavy. A sustained stare at the challenge of creation." ~ Dennis Bolen, author Stupid Crimes and founder of Anvil Press
Guest Post by the Author
The Roots of a Character
"What Melanie did was no more than all Southern girls were taught to do: to make those about them feel at ease and pleased with themselves." ~ Margaret Mitchell, Gone With the Wind
When I was in university, I had friend you would hardly call a friend. I’d introduce her to a man I was interested in and she would begin to flirt and frequently end up in his bed, sometimes right under my nose. When I talked to her about it, somehow she managed to turn it around and make it all his fault, then tell me how classy and funny I was and that I was better off without that jerk anyway. In fact, we both were. Then I’d see him sneaking out of her door the very next week.
Why did I put up with it? Well, she had this ability to make the person she was talking to (me at the time) feel like the center of the world. She saw the neediness in me and filled it with what I wanted, whether it was ego-stroking, understanding, or mothering.
The friendship didn’t last long. Yet, the character puzzle of her stuck with me: What was she trying to get from me, from these men? When she won, what did it look like?
Rosemarie, in my novel, The Forty Watt Flowers, is my attempt to explore this old "friend".
I made her Southern because the book is set in Athens, Georgia, and I was interested in talking about women’s issues from a New South perspective. She is a young woman working at dropping her drawl so people don’t think she’s "stupid" as soon as she opens her mouth. She is not stupid. She has a wisdom in some things that is uncanny. Call it emotional intelligence, if you will. But that doesn’t mean she’s always smart, either.
With a quick wit, a flashy tongue, a desire to be the center of the attention, Rosemarie is fun to watch. She goes from femme fatale showgirl to "poor little me" victim at the speed of light. What makes her bearable is that she’s got enough emotional smarts to make fun of herself for it (most of the time, anyway). But get her angry and she’ll make mincemeat of you (or embarrass herself trying).
She is more woman than some other women. It’s in the way she moves, in how she talks, in the clothes she wears. If she does not have a man in her bed, she is overcome with anxiety. Her rhythm is set to estrogen, which rocks and rolls inside her.
She lives in fantasy for the most part, because the reality of the world around her is too overwhelming. The trouble is, fantasies are … well … by their very nature, fantastic. That means, in addition to being light entertainments where she is queen, fantasies can also be ferocious monsters clawing at her from the dark. With so much drama, it’s difficult for Rosemarie to realize that the strategies she uses to get through each day are merely temporary fixes to a larger problem. But heck, I’m not gonna get all judgy on her.
What is her "larger problem"? Is it an inability to control her impulses or stray thoughts? Was her neediness created in childhood when she was ignored by her mother? Was her freedom crushed? Did people in power pronounce that she’d never amount to anything and she’s doing her best to prove them right?
As writer, I tried to put clues in the book to indicate why I think Rosemarie ended up the way she is, but I tried to leave it so each reader could make up their own mind. Is Rosemarie evil or a victim? Manipulative or merely reacting to circumstances without thinking?
Have you found characters that you love to hate and hate to love? A character who does bad things because they don’t really think through the impacts of their actions on others? I’d love to hear about them. Leave a comment below.
About the Author
Colleen is award-winning editor who started her writing life as a playwright. She has had 7 plays produced across Canada and worked with the likes of Samantha Bee (yes, from The Daily Show) and Leah Cherniak.
Her plays include Back Alley Boys about the hardcore punk scene in Toronto, Eye am Hear which tells the tale of a luddite teenage squatters at some undetermined punkish time in the future, A Brief Case of Crack Addicted Cockroaches about the relationship between the media and politics featuring a city councillor who smokes crack (which was never produced because it was too off the wall) and Interbastation about the beauty in ugliness and the ugliness in beauty. Her novel Public Image tied for second in the Anvil Press International 3-day Novel competition.
In addition to her work as a playwright, Colleen puts on the dramaturgy, editor and script doctor hats for a range of publishers, producers and writer clients. She has a Master in Creative Writing from the prestigious UBC Department of Theatre, Film and Creative Writing and has taught play writing at the university level. She's also done the Board of Directors thing with the Playwrights Guild of Canada, The Playwrights Theatre Centre in Vancouver and other arts organizations.
She was managing editor of Taking the Stage: Selections from plays by Canadian Women which was selected as the "most saleable dramatic publication of the year" by the Canadian Booksellers' Association. She has also been awarded Arts Council grants by the province of Ontario and Nova Scotia. She has served on the judging panel of several international novel awards. Her one-person play Interbastation was selected as one of the top-10 best shows by CBC Winnipeg in 1998.
She lived in Athens from 1999 to 2001 and, while there, reviewed and edited manuscripts for Hill Street Press.
Enter the tour-wide giveaway for a chance to win a $20 Amazon or B&N gift card.